$1.6 million to fight invasive plants in British Columbia

The provincial government is providing over $1.6 million in new grants to control the spread of invasive plants

The provincial government is providing over $1.6 million in new grants to control the spread of invasive plants, Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Minister Steve Thomson announced Saturday.

The 29 grants are being given to local governments, regional invasive species committees and the Invasive Species Council of B.C. to assist their activities and support the objectives of the provincial Invasive Plant Program.

This funding is in addition to the $809,000 already earmarked by the Ministry of Forests, Lands, and Natural Resource Operations for invasive plant control and management in 2014-15.

Regional invasive species committees, the Invasive Species Council of B.C., local governments, provincial government ministries and stakeholders all work together to raise public awareness of invasive plants, survey and map invasive plant populations, and actively treat high-priority sites to control the spread of invasive plants.

Funding has also been granted to the Invasive Species Council of B.C. to assist with provincial collaboration, co-ordination and communication, development of best management practices, and expanded methods to increase awareness and reporting of invasive species.

The Invasive Species Council of B.C. is based in Williams Lake. Regional committees are non-profit societies that serve as forums for land managers and other stakeholders to co-ordinate invasive plant treatment activities and participate in outreach and educational opportunities.

There are currently 13 regional invasive species committees in the province. Invasive plants are species that have been introduced into British Columbia from other areas. They displace our native vegetation and can cause considerable economic and environmental damage, and some pose a health risk to people.

Invasive plants may disrupt natural ecosystems, reduce biodiversity, increase soil erosion, alter soil chemistry and adversely affect commercial crops.

Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson says, “The provincial government actively contributes to the conservation of wildlife habitat and works hard to protect the interests of British Columbia’s ranching and agriculture industries. These grants will help local governments and regional organizations minimize the spread of harmful invasive plants.”

Barry Gibbs, chair, Invasive Species Council of British Columbia commented, “Invasive species impact British Columbia’s communities in many ways. Whether it’s the cost to our agriculture industry or a loss of natural biodiversity, invasive species are a concern. The support provided by the ministry is vital to the efforts of our council and our partners to prevent new introductions and respond to existing populations of invasive species. Since the majority of B.C. is Crown land, the government’s support is also critical for promoting collaborative action across administrative boundaries.”

Invasive Plant Program grant distribution for 2014-15 within the Souhern Interior:

* Invasive Species Council of B.C. $180,000

* Lillooet Regional Invasive Species Society $30,000

* Regional District of Central Okanagan $13,000

* Regional District of North Okanagan $35,000

* Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen $15,000

* Okanagan and Similkameen Invasive Species Society $63,300

* Southern Interior Weed Management Committee $115,000

* Thompson-Nicola Regional District $24,000

The Invasive Plant Program identifies sites where invasive plant species have been found and responds rapidly to contain and eradicate them before they become established and start spreading.

Currently, some of the most intrusive plants in B.C. are marsh plume thistle, European common reed, garlic mustard, knotweed, and Spartina. Other targeted species include orange and yellow (non-native) hawkweeds, knapweed, giant hogweed, blueweed, common tansy, tansy ragwort, hoary alyssum, field scabious, leafy spurge, purple loosestrife, yellow flag iris, Himalayan balsam and Scotch broom.

Learn More:

Invasive Alien Plant Program: http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hra/plants/index.htm

Inter-Ministry Invasive Species Working Group: http://www.for.gov.bc.ca/hra/invasive-species/index.htm

Invasive Species Council of British Columbia: http://www.bcinvasives.ca